The father of modern political science, Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli, believed it was better to be feared than loved.
Doug Wardlow, Republican candidate for Minnesota Attorney General and attorney for an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center considers a hate group against the LGBT community, seems to agree. A relative unknown (seven out of 10 voters did not recognize his name in an MPR/Star Tribune poll released Sept. 18) the former state representative is not trying to boost his profile among voters, but rather boost voters’ fears about his opponent, Rep. Keith Ellison. Days before Halloween, the claims some would consider “spooky” are familiar ones made by Republicans throughout the nation, but the question is how well will they play in a state that prides itself on progressiveness and inclusion?
Wardlow, who has aligned himself with President Donald Trump, is running mostly negative attack ads against his opponent, Ellison; and while on the stump, he is stirring up fears regarding illegal voting, illegal immigrants, crime, welfare fraud, curtailing of gun rights and other popular (and often successful) Republican talking points that tend to resonate with rural white voters. But many of the claims Wardlow is making are without merit. One seems to be completely fraudulent.
On June 1 Wardlow was speaking with conservative radio host Brad Bennett and made the claim there is “widespread” voter fraud in Minnesota … and in Ramsey County in particular.
“In Ramsey County they send validations to check and see if people are registered, and just in this past election, so people who registered a year prior to the election; 7,000 got returned undeliverable,” said Wardlow. “So that’s one edition at least of fraud.”
The problem is, according to Ramsey County elections manager Joe Mansky that statement is an outright lie. He said he does not know how Wardlow came up with such an astonishing claim, and he said he is aware of an infinitesimal number of cases of voter fraud in Ramsey County. In fact, there were only 11 convictions statewide of people voting illegally in the 2016 general election according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
“It’s (illegal voting) is almost nonexistent,” said Ben Petok, communications director for Secretary of State Steve Simon. “In the general election of 2016 we had almost 3 million ballots cast and only 11 were done so illegally. And most of those were felons who believed they were eligible to vote.”
And those felons were in counties in Greater Minnesota, typically more rural and more white areas.
Being aligned with Trump, who touts the conspiracy of voter fraud, Wardlow said one of the first things he would do if elected is immediately pull attorneys off lawsuits filed against the Trump administration. Those lawsuits include one over cuts in federal healthcare and another to reunify children with parents separated while trying to legally seek asylum in the U.S.
In addition, Wardlow touts his hard-right stance on immigration and picked a fight with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey for requiring all police vehicles to have a sticker in both English and Spanish advising people of their rights regarding ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Wardlow’s campaign manager, Billy Grant, called the decision by Frey, “disappointing.”
What some find disappointing about Wardlow is his work with the Alliance Defending Freedom. Deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Alliance Defending Freedom because of its anti-LGBT stance the Alliance campaigns and litigates against what it calls a “homosexual agenda.” Wardlow is an attorney for the Alliance.
Insight News reached out to Wardlow by phone to get comment for this story, but our efforts were unsuccessful.